Past Exhibitions


A photograph of Rick Araluce's Final Stop structure depicting a train station platform with tracks and tunnels.
Rick Araluce: The Final Stop
Araluce is an artist and scenic designer based in Seattle.
October 20, 2017January 28, 2018
Interior detail of red bedroom study
Murder Is Her Hobby: Frances Glessner Lee and The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death
Frances Glessner Lee (1878-1962) crafted her extraordinary “Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death”–exquisitely detailed miniature crime scenes–to train homicide investigators to “convict the guilty, clear the innocent, and find the truth in a nutshell.” 
October 20, 2017January 28, 2018
Silhouette over Harper's print
Kara Walker: Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated)
This exhibition of prints from SAAM’s collection features the artist’s provocative take on the Civil War.
October 13, 2017March 11, 2018
Thomas Wilfred's light sculpture Unit 86
Lumia: Thomas Wilfred and the Art of Light
Lumia: Thomas Wilfred and the Art of Light restores Thomas Wilfred (1889–1968) to his rightful place in the history of modern art.
October 6, 2017January 7, 2018
Parallax Gap by FreelandBuck
Parallax Gap
Parallax Gap transforms the Renwick Gallery’s Bettie Rubenstein Grand Salon into a visual puzzle.
July 1, 2017February 11, 2018
Donald Sultan's painting Early Morning May 20 1986
Donald Sultan: The Disaster Paintings
Sultan’s Disaster Paintings echo the drama of their subjects in their large scale and great physicality.
May 26, 2017September 4, 2017
Photograph of children playing in the water from a fire hydrant by Hiram Maristany
Down These Mean Streets: Community and Place in Urban Photography
America’s urban streets have long inspired documentary photographers. After World War II, populations shifted from the city to the suburbs and newly built highways cut through thriving neighborhoods, leaving isolated pockets within major urban centers.
May 11, 2017August 5, 2017
Senator Kennedy waving from car
American Visionary: John F. Kennedy’s Life and Times
President John F. Kennedy’s administration coincided with a golden age of photojournalism in America— and no single politician was photographed more than Kennedy.
May 3, 2017September 17, 2017
Media - 1983.79 - SAAM-1983.79_2 - 115897
Voulkos: The Breakthrough Years
Originally trained as a functional potter, Voulkos defied mid-century craft dictums of proper technique and form.
April 6, 2017August 19, 2017
Crowd of people
Watch This! New Directions in the Art of the Moving Image
Watch This! New Directions in the Art of the Moving Image is a series of rotating exhibitions drawn from SAAM’s permanent collection.
March 11, 2017March 18, 2018
Ceramic square structure with yellow interior base with lighter top and red exterior coloring.
June Schwarcz: Invention and Variation
Pioneering artist June Schwarcz (1918–2015) was one of the most innovative enamelists of the 20th century, creating a remarkably varied body of work over a career spanning more than 60 years.
March 10, 2017August 26, 2017


Media - 1976.108.33 - SAAM-1976.108.33_2 - 123040
Gene Davis: Hot Beat
Brightly colored stripes multiply in rhythmic repetitions across the surface of a painting by Gene Davis.
November 18, 2016April 1, 2017
Sculpture Grey Sun by Isamu Noguchi
Isamu Noguchi, Archaic/​Modern
Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988) was among the most innovative American sculptors of the twentieth century, creating works that were far ahead of his time.
November 11, 2016March 18, 2017
Visions and Revisions: Renwick Invitational 2016
Visions and Revisions presents the work of Steven Young Lee, Kristen Morgin, Jennifer Trask, and Norwood Viviano, four artists who take innovative approaches to their selected mediums and who share a fascination with themes of transformation, rui
September 8, 2016January 16, 2017
Media - 2016.29.3 - SAAM-2016.29.3_1 - 124404
Watch This! New Directions on the Art of the Moving Image (5.0)
Watch This! New Directions in the Art of the Moving Image is a series of rotating exhibitions drawn from SAAM’s permanent collection.
September 8, 2016March 6, 2017
Media - 1967.59.1118 - SAAM-1967.59.1118_1 - 2924
Artworks by African Americans from the Collection
The Smithsonian American Art Museum is home to an extraordinary collection of artworks by African Americans with more than 2,000 objects by more than 200 artists. From William H.
August 31, 2016February 28, 2017
Media - 1983.63.135 - SAAM-1983.63.135_2 - 122826
Harlem Heroes: Photographs by Carl Van Vechten
At the height of the Harlem Renaissance, Carl Van Vechten (1880–1964) picked up a camera and discovered the power the photographic portrait has over the photographer himself.
August 25, 2016April 1, 2017
Media - 2015.17 - SAAM-2015.17_1 - 118050
Connections: Contemporary Craft at the Renwick Gallery
This summer the permanent collection returns to the Renwick Gallery with a dynamic new presentation of 80+ objects celebrating craft as a discipline and an approach to living differently in the modern world.
June 30, 2016February 20, 2018
Media - 1966.49.1 - SAAM-1966.49.1_2 - 124667
The Art of Romaine Brooks
Romaine Brooks (1874–1970) lived most of her life in Paris where she was a leading figure of an artistic counterculture of upper-class Europeans and American expatriates, many of whom were creative, bohemian, and homosexual.
June 16, 2016October 1, 2016
Media - 2002.18 - SAAM-2002.18_1 - 63582
Martin Puryear: Multiple Dimensions
Martin Puryear (b. 1941) is widely celebrated for his elegant but playful sculptures and his devotion to craft. His drawings and prints are less well known, but they are equally essential to the artist’s studio practice.
May 26, 2016September 4, 2016
Media - 1983.63.1193 - SAAM-1983.63.1193_1 - 52101
No Mountains in the Way: Photographs from the Kansas Documentary Survey, 1974
In 1974, with a grant of $5,000 from the NEA, No Mountains in the Way was organized by Jim Enyeart, then curator of photography at the University of Kansas Museum of Art.
February 26, 2016July 30, 2016


Media - 2014.50.1.4 - SAAM-2014.50.1.4_5 - 116527
Watch This! New Directions in the Art of the Moving Image (4.0)
Watch This! New Directions in the Art of the Moving Image is a series of rotating exhibitions drawn from SAAM’s permanent collection.
December 4, 2015August 27, 2016
Media - 2016.11 - SAAM-2016.11_6 - 124929
Connections: Contemporary Craft at the Renwick Gallery
Connections is the Renwick Gallery’s dynamic ongoing permanent collection presentation, featuring more than 80 objects celebrating craft as a discipline and an approach to living differently in the modern world.
November 13, 2015March 6, 2022
Dawe's Plexus A1 displaying an array of colors with Dougherty's Shindig made of bend twigs in the background
Nine leading contemporary artists—Jennifer Angus, Chakaia Booker, Gabriel Dawe, Tara Donovan, Patrick Dougherty, Janet Echelman, John Grade, Maya Lin, and Leo Villareal—each took over different galleries in the building, creating site-specific installatio
November 13, 2015July 9, 2016
Media - 2001.38 - SAAM-2001.38_1 - 63291
Crosscurrents: Modern Art from the Sam Rose and Julie Walters Collection
American artists in the twentieth century were deeply influenced by European modernism.
October 29, 2015April 9, 2016
Bee, New York
Irving Penn: Beyond Beauty
Irving Penn: Beyond Beauty, the first retrospective of Penn’s work in nearly twenty years, celebrates his legacy as a modern master and reveals the full expressive range of his work.
October 22, 2015March 19, 2016
Media - 1979.144.41 - SAAM-1979.144.41_1 - 5719
The Modern Pueblo Painting of Awa Tsireh
The paintings of Awa Tsireh (1898–1955), represent an encounter between the art traditions of native Pueblo peoples in the Southwestern United States and the American modernist art style begun in New York, which spread quickly across the country.
September 3, 2015January 31, 2016
Media - 1968.155.1 - SAAM-1968.155.1_3 - 80074
Measured Perfection: Hiram Powers’ Greek Slave
This one-gallery exhibition reveals the inner workings of the studio of Hiram Powers (1805–1873), who was among the most innovative sculptors of the nineteenth century, eagerly adapting long-standing sculpture traditions to new technologies of his age.
July 2, 2015July 8, 2017
Media - 2010.23 - SAAM-2010.23_1 - 73854
Watch This! Revelations in Media Art
Watch This! Revelations in Media Art presents pioneering and contemporary artworks that trace the evolution of a continuously emerging medium.
April 23, 2015September 6, 2015
A painting of a woman sitting down and reading 'Le Figaro'
Special Installation of Nineteen American Masterworks
Integrated within the chronological flow of the museum’s permanent collection, these masterworks from Gilded Age, Impressionist, and Ashcan School painters will help to tell the story of the late 19th century and early 20th centuries in America, a “coming
April 17, 2015August 16, 2015